More analysis soon, but here's a portion of the cover article from Andrea Widener:
Like many events in 2020, the American Chemical Society salary survey was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally conducted in the spring, the survey collected data in June and July of last year. The data shown here reflect the median annual salaries for 4,565 ACS members under age 70 who work as full-time employees in the US. (ACS publishes C&EN.)
The most notable change from the 2019 survey is the drop in unemployment rate. The salary survey shows an unemployment rate of 1.5% for ACS members, who were asked to report their status as of March 1, 2020. That’s down more than a point from the 2019 rate and is the lowest rate in the past 20 years. Unemployment in some regions dropped to below 1%.
Why the big drop? C&EN asked ACS its thoughts about the change and what might be causing it.
To start, there’s the date: March 1 was before most people would have felt the economic effects of COVID-19. “I would point to the rise in the economy and how our economy’s been doing in general prior to the pandemic,” says Eric Bruton, a chemist at Boeing and chair of the ACS Committee on Economic and Professional Affairs (CEPA), which oversees the salary survey. He points in particular to growth in several chemical-related industries during late 2019 and early 2020. “Overall, it’s a nice positive.”
Steven Meyers, who oversees the salary survey as ACS’s senior director of member programming, says the low employment rate “is emblematic of a trend that we’ve been seeing since the end of the last recession” in 2008–9, reflecting more than 10 years of economic growth.
The drop in unemployment in the ACS survey data isn’t reflected in the US unemployment rate in March for people with at least a bachelor’s degree, which was up slightly from 2.0% in March 2019 to 2.5% in March 2020, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. ACS often uses this number to compare trends for ACS members with the larger economy.
That looks like good news, even with the typical caveats around the Salary Survey. More to come...